On 6-8 July 2016, a working meeting of the team of the "Rights in Prison. EU-Russia Civil Society Forum and the Defence of Fundamental Rights in the Penitentiary System" Project supported within the Forum's Open Call Mechanism (OCM) took place in Rome, Italy.
Apart from the project partners - Alessio Scandurra from the "Antigone" Association (Rome) and Irina Protasova from the NGO "Man and Law" (Yoshkar-Ola), the events gathered representatives of the civilian oversight commissions from the Republic of Mari-El and the Tomsk Region and the "For Civil Rights" Committee (Russia) as well as NGOs "A Buon Diritto" and "Forum Droghe" (Italy), and others.
Italian human rights defenders organised a workshop for Russian colleagues, which was devoted to the local penitentiary system and activities of Italian NGOs in the field of civilian oversight and prisoner's rights, while the guests were speaking about similarities and differences in these questions in Russia. The participants also got first-hand experiences with the local penitentiary system while visiting the Regina Coeli prison. Besides, they had an opportunity to talk to Professor Mauro Palma, Prisoners' Ombudsperson and Head of the National Preventive Mechanism.
On 6 July 2016, the Open Event "Civil Society in Russia and Italy. Share of Experiences and Cooperation Opportunities" was held. It was attended by Italian organsations interested in establishment of contacts to Russian colleagues - the local branch of Amnesty International, the CILD Network, Magen David Keshet Italia, Progetto Diritti, and the Active Citizenship Network, which joined the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum shortly after the meeting.
Finally, the OCM project partners discussed further cooperation steps like preparation of a publication on the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, which affected penitentiary systems of member states of the Council of Europe; collection of data on best practices of NGOs working in the field of prisoners' rights; and another exchange visit - this time for Italian human rights defenders to Russia.
” The meeting in Rome has been interesting and challenging at the same time, - sums up Alessio Scandurra. - Share of information and views with foreign colleagues is always valuable. But if there is an opportunity to do something together, to carry out a common piece of work, that becomes even more intense and fruitful.